“Mr. Real” by Carolyn Crane

Okay, so I recently sort of discovered a new author, Carolyn Crane. I say “sort of” because of this book. It was… to say “bad” would be a misnomer. “Unreadable” comes closer. I literally could not read this book. It was too stupid. I originally thought, Hey, I like her other books, the Disillusionist Trilogy, I’ll probably like this one. Sure, the premise is retarded but it sounds retarded in a fun way. Wrong! It was just straight up retarded. Like, horrifyingly bad.

So, the premise is that the main character, Alix (my first hint that it was a bad book. Who spells that with an i?) inherits a house and a bunch of other stuff from her cooky, old aunt when she dies. I say “cooky” because it turns out the lady was a witch, like an actual magic using witch, and not one of the wiccan types who are mostly about being in balance with nature, but who used actual magic and, get this, managed to transfer that magic to a computer somehow. So that anything you click on, using a computer that has that code in it, will magically appear a day later on your front porch. Like I said, the premise sounded really, really stupid, but whatever I was willing to roll with it. Where she really lost me was the heroine, Alix. With an i. Instead of treating this ludicrous macguffin with kid gloves and a healthy dose of suspicion, since it’s a magical freaking computer and last I checked, magic comes with a price, she decides to use it to go shopping. She “orders” a supposedly great outfit, though based on the description you couldn’t pay me to wear it, and an insanely expensive necklace before it comes to her- she should use it to order a man! And not just any man, no no. She should use it to order a tv commercial character who is played by a guy that she met years ago, for a few weeks that she is somehow still half in love with. No, it didn’t make sense to me either. Any of it. Nothing in that previous sentence made any sense to me, but whatever because she goes for it.

The explanation why she should do such a thing is really, really stupid too. It’s not that she’s smart and just did a dumb thing, or just got caught up in the whole, “Hey, I can have whatever I want!” after years of poverty or whatever. No, no. She’s just that kind of person. She’s crazy, she’s wacky, isn’t that just so much fun! She randomly used magical objects that she doesn’t understand for completely selfish reasons! Isn’t she just so wacky and fun? Honestly, in any other book, she would be the first casualty. She’d be the smoking puddle of ooze on the floor that everyone looks at and goes “So now we know not to do that. Thank you, Alix with an i, for that object lesson.” Instead, no no. She’s just so crazy and fun, and so deeply misunderstood. What part of any of what she does make sense, or is in any way a good idea? None of it! Does the book care? No!

I’ll be honest, I didn’t really read the rest of it after that. I flipped around a lot, trying to see if it redeemed itself at some point and it most assuredly did not. The guy shows up and since he’s supposed to be some sort of secret agent in the commercials, he thinks he’s a secret agent there and he seriously wonders whether he should kill her, and then the guy she is inexplicably still half in love with after all this time, after minimal contact, I cannot stress enough how minimal the contact was, they never even met socially, shows up and stuff happens and… I don’t know. I think the fake guy goes crazy or something. There seemed to be some sort of standoff or something. Anyway, yeah, amazingly stupid. I’m actually really put off Carolyn Crane right now. Which is a shame because her Disillusionist Trilogy was actually really good. It had this superhero vibe that I seriously dug. But now I don’t even know if I can read her stuff again. It was that bad. I feel dumber for having read it. I spent actual money on this book. Like actual, factual money. And I ordered it online, so it had to be shipped to me. So that’s even more money and some poor package deliverer’s time. Oh god.

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Movie: “The Golden Compass”

This was just a terrible movie. Just- just terrible. Like, I was watching the climax and I turned to my sister and asked how much longer we had left. That’s how bad this movie was. I hadn’t read the books before, I’ve just started the first one today, but I could tell you even then that it was clearly a good story that was incredibly clumsily translated to movie form. Like, the shift from book to screenplay severely hurt it and then the same guy who did that tried to direct it. And if I had to guess I’d say he had never, in his entire life, directed a movie before. It’s the only explanation. And they changed things that made absolutely no sense. Like Lyra’s uncle/ dad in the movie is a good guy, complicated, but by all appearances a good guy. I’ve read about fifty pages of the book and a quick peek at the ending and already I can tell you he is very much not. And they made how Lyra ends up in the cupboard to overhear the stuff about Dust and to save her uncle from poisoning way more complicated in the movie than in the book. Isn’t it usually the other way around? What was the point of that? And also, the chick who played Lyra was kinda obnoxious. I almost expected a golden glow to pop up around her head during this movie, proclaiming her role as the Chosen One. She never showed any fear or doubt or hesitancy, any of the things that one would expect from a, what ten year old girl, who’s on a big, life threatening adventure. There’s no character development or insight into who she is. They call her brave, but as she never shows any fear, I wouldn’t call her brave. Without fear, there is no courage, so if she had no fear, she had no courage, I don’t care what they said.

On the upside, it had Ian McKellan in there and I always enjoy him. And the giant, talking warrior bears was mildly interesting. Not as much as I expected mind you, and not nearly as interesting as that last sentence really called for, but they were what, in any other movie, I would call a high point. I’ll let you know about the book, but honestly it can’t be worse than the movie. I’m not sure that that’s possible.

“Blood Poison” by D.H. Dublin

I’m not sure what to make of this book. It started off strong, I liked it, it was going well and then it started to lose me. It faded in the last.. half? Quarter? Bit. It faded in the last bit. I’m not entirely sure when it started to fade, but fade it did by god.

Okay, so it’s a mystery, which is a bit unusual for me. Normally I don’t go for mysteries. I tend to get impatient and read the end and then lose interest once I know who did it. Self defeating, I realize, but it’s really just not my genre. That and I have a hard time finding an author I like or characters that I like within that genre. I don’t really know why. But anyway, this one was interesting and on sale for a dollar so I figured I didn’t have much to lose. I’m not sure if I did either.

It starts off with a murder of an anonymous woman as the prologue, which is then pushed quickly to the back burner for the much more interesting case of… the guy who died of apparent natural causes in his kitchen. I thought they were trying for a thing. I decided to go with it. While the crime scene people are waiting for the paramedics to show up to take the body away, the victim’s father shows up at the guys house- while the body is still there. Awkward. The main character, Madison Cross, then strikes up a sort of friendship with the guy. She’s trying to be nice, she hangs out with him while their waiting for the van to come for his dead son, they play cards, they talk etc. And then she gets, to my mind, like way too involved in this guy’s life. She calls his doctor to get a prescription for Valium, since he’s had quite a shock, she picks it up for him, she calls social services to get him a helper, she calls his doctor for his medical records when she’s told by social services that they would need them, she goes by his house at least once a day to see him. She bends over backwards for a complete stranger. I mean, maybe I’m just not that good of a person, god knows that’s a possibility, but this is a grown ass man. Let him try to sort things out for himself first before charging in and getting all up in his business. She even goes to the son’s funeral for him. All this after hanging out for a few hours with him on a bad day. It seems a bit much. I mean, apparently her mother was murdered when she was a girl and her father emotionally abandoned her after that, soon followed by actual abandonment, which, as I understand it, can lead to that kind of behavior, but it just seemed weird. Like, every time I turned around, she was talking about Horace, going to visit Horace, needing to ask Horace some questions, investigating the death of Horace’s son and the various and sundry other people who had died in his proximity throughout his life. And then the first murder, the one that is definitively murder, the one that the book opened with for god’s sake, seems like it’s forgotten or pushed to the side. Instead, she focuses virtually all her attention on Horace, his dead son, his dead wife, his dead doctor and his apparently criminal missing son. And never once, until the end, does she ever really consider Horace as a real suspect. Dude, just because the guy’s in a wheelchair doesn’t mean he can’t find a way to kill someone. Or several someones. Honestly, he was my only suspect all along. If a good mystery novel can be judged by how much it kept you guessing, then this one was not good. When it was revealed that Horace killed everyone, including the mystery woman at the beginning, a coincidence of epic proportions that has me rolling my eyes, I was not surprised. My reaction was more along the lines of “Well, duh.” I mean, the wheelchair explanation, Munchausen syndrome, was a bit of a surprise, but the rest of it, no. (Munchausen, for anyone who isn’t familiar with it, is a psychological disorder that causes someone to pretend that they’re sick or disabled to garner attention. There’s also Munchausen by Proxy, which is when someone, usually a parent, makes someone else actually sick to garner attention. Don’t tell me television doesn’t teach you anything.)

Anyway, like I said, I liked it at first, but by the end I was rolling my eyes at the constant references to Horace, her obsessive personality and how she seemed blind to the fact that the one common factor in three separate deaths is one person. Honestly, that person either has the worst luck in the world or they’re a killer, and as a person at least associated with the cops, if not a cop herself, she should always land on the killer side first, just to be safe. Makes you wonder how good she actually is at her job.

It has Tom Cruise in it. Of course it’s terrible. Glad to see I was right though

Splatter: on FILM

I’ll never listen to Journey the same way again.
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Call this film a cautionary tale.

Perhaps the message was: never move to L.A. You’ll end up a stripper, or a member of a boy band, or a filthy politician, or in love with a rock god, or worse…you’ll become the rock god and never find real love.

Cautions all. Here’s another one: Caution: don’t see this movie. Never before have I yelled mid-film,  “This is the worst movie I have ever seen!” And I’ve seen some bad’uns.
ImageFirst, it’s a musical. Hairspray and Mama Mia meet Spinal Tap minus Christopher Guest. Someone should have let this all star cast in on the inside joke before they took it too seriously.

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Some, like C.Z.Jones played it camp, like a native of the theater would. She was awful. I’m so embarrassed for her. Her redemption? Possibly only the presence of Bryan Cranston…

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Bad Working Conditions

As someone who slaves away for very little money, I find this sort of thing very upsetting.

According to a guide released earlier this year by a group dedicated to workplace justice, some of the most popular fast-food, fine-dining, and family-friendly restaurants in the United States — including McDonald’s, The Capital Grille, and The Olive Garden — are also the worst ones at which to work.
“We all enjoy eating out,” Restaurant Opportunities Centers (ROC) writes on the website for its National Diners’ Guide 2012. “Unfortunately, the workers who cook, prepare, and serve our food suffer from poverty wages, no benefits like paid sick days, and little or no chance to move up to better positions. When the people who serve us food can’t afford to pay the rent or take a day off when they’re sick, our dining experience suffers.”
Related: The 10 best and worst restaurants

Ninety percent of the more than 4,300 restaurant workers surveyed by ROC reported their employers did not offer employees paid sick leave. Two-thirds of those surveyed reported that their employees routinely cook, prepare, and serve food while sick.

Rich Jeffers, director of media relations for Darden Restaurants, owners of the Olive Garden,  the Capital Grille steakhouse,  Longhorn Steakhouse, and Red Lobster — all of which were called out in the survey over possible illegal practices because  workers there have sought help for discrimination and wage theft — said the organization never reached out to Darden about how employees are compensated before publishing its guide. He noted the average hourly wage with tips for the chain’s wait staff is nearly $14.50, and the average hourly wage for a busser is $11. He took exception with a survey of 4,300 restaurant workers in an industry that employs 13 million people.

Workers are entitled to a minimum wage of $7.25 per hour if they do not receive tips and $2.13 per hour if they do, as well as overtime pay, if they work more than 40 hours per week; if tips and wages don’t add up to $7.25 per hour, the employer is obligated to make up the difference. But many workers aren’t aware that they’re entitled to payment for all of the hours they work, let alone at what rate, the guide noted. And a wage gap exists even among workers making the bare minimum that the government requires employers to pay. “Women, immigrants, and people of color hold lower-paying positions in the industry, and do not have many opportunities to move up the ladder,” the report found. “Among the 4,300 workers surveyed, we found a $4 wage gap between white workers and workers of color, and 73 percent reported not receiving regular promotions on the job.”

The guide, which was published in January but gained some newfound attention this week when the New York Times’ Mark Bittman and others wrote about it, ranked 150 of the most profitable restaurants in the United States on how much their workers earn, whether they get paid sick leave, and what kind of chances they have for advancement. Darden’s Jeffers said 48.9 percent of its restaurant managers advance from entry-level positions, and that the company is keenly focused on upward mobility for its employees.

A sizable number of well-known restaurant chains earned “zero” ratings because they didn’t meet any of the minimum requirements for their workers — and, contrary to what you might think, there are more than a few high-end fine-dining establishments on the list. Take a look:

Applebee’s


Baskin-Robbins

Bob Evans


Boston Market

Buffalo Wild Wings

 
Burger King

 
California Pizza Kitchen


The Cheesecake Factory

 
Chuck E. Cheese

 Cracker Barrel 


Dunkin Donuts

 Einstein Bros. Bagels

 Hard Rock Cafe


Hooters


IHOP

KFC 


Legal Seafoods


McDonald’s


Outback Steakhouse

P.F. Chang’s



Pizza Hut 


Quiznos

Red Robin


Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse 


Sonic 


Subway

TGI Friday’s 


Taco Bell 


Uno Chicago Grill 


Wendy’s 
 (You can find the entire list here.)

“When you go out to eat, you shouldn’t get wage theft, racism, and sick cooks in the kitchen along with your meal,” Eric Schlosser, author of “Fast Food Nation,”writes in an endorsement of the ROC guide. “How the food tastes at a restaurant really doesn’t matter if the people who work there are being mistreated.”

There were a few good guys on the list, mostly local places in New York, Michigan, and California. But, nationally speaking, Five Guys Burgers and Fries — a national chain that oozes retro charm and a simple menu– received high marks across the board.

 

Copyright © 2012 Yahoo Inc.http://shine.yahoo.com/work-money/worst-restaurants-193800942.html

Wage slavery? Really people? Really? That’s how we’re gonna play it? Nice.

 

The Horror…

So last night I was browsing the web and ran across this website with a bunch of short stories on it, which I thought would be awesome, since it’s a website especially designed to help amateur writers find their voice. So I picked one at random and read it…. I wish I could say that it was a good story and that I recommend it, but honestly, it was one of those that, while interesting and well written, left you horrified and backing away slowly. It was absolutely and utterly horrifying. There is no other word for it. I couldn’t stop thinking about it today, which I suppose means it served it’s purpose, but I certainly hope that the author didn’t intend the reaction of “What? Why would you write that? What’s wrong with you?” It just.. and I… there are no words. Read it if you like, I’ll post the link, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.

It’s called “One Flesh” by Robert Devereaux http://theharrow.com/journal/index.php?journal=journal&page=article&op=view&path[]=2891&path[]=905

Shonda Rhimes Must Be Stopped

I just want to start by saying that I do not watch “Grey’s Anatomy”, nor have I for years, but I am vaguely aware of what goes on with it. I have a friend who watches it and there’s a tv blog that I read that discusses it regularly and well… sometimes I’m bored and curious. I want that firmly understood before I say this, because if I, someone who hasn’t watched the show for years and is only vaguely aware of it’s drama, not every little bit, not everything that happens, just sort of aware of it, then surely it’s worse than I know. And surely it must be even more true than I realize when I say: Shonda Rhimes must be stopped. She’s the showrunner for “Grey’s Anatomy” and the things that she has done to Meredith Grey… honestly, if it were real life, I would intervene. It’s abusive. It is full on character abuse. Every time I hear anything about the show, it’s something about Meredith’s life going to crap- again. What does this woman have against her own character? I honestly think that kind of behavior is a form of self hate. Just check out this quote from CliqueClack, that blog I mentioned:

“Since the very beginning of Grey’s Anatomy, Meredith’s luck has been absolutely lousy. Let’s review:

She hooked up with a man she didn’t know was married and watched as he went back to his wife, despite her humiliating pleas for him to pick her. She removed a live bomb from the body of a patient, then stood witness as it blew up the cute bomb squad guy. Her mother, who’d been emotionally abusive to Meredith her entire life, had Alzheimer’s and died as Meredith was being resuscitated after a suicide attempt. Her estranged alcoholic father, who was happy with the new family he’d made after leaving Meredith and her mother, blamed Meredith after his second wife died in a freakish manner while Meredith was her doctor. Her dog got sick and had to be put down. A close friend was hit by a truck and died, while another had stage four cancer, went into remission, then left. The guy for whom she’d long pined “married” her on a Post-It, but then was shot in the chest and nearly died as Meredith, who offered herself up as a sacrifice to the gunman who was killing everybody, miscarried her baby. Meredith then couldn’t get pregnant but when she eventually adopted a baby, her husband left her as punishment for her screwing up a clinical trial. Meredith’s baby was taken away by social services, then returned, and her husband came back, too, only to have the season end with Meredith and her husband involved in a plane crash where Meredith’s sister Lexie was killed. Oh, and it’s possible that Meredith could have Alzheimer’s. Shonda Rhimes probably will give Meredith Alzheimer’s.” (http://cliqueclack.com/tv/2012/05/18/greys-anatomy-season-8-finale-review/)

And that wasn’t even the complete list. I’ll say it again. Shonda Rhimes must be stopped. I realize that Meredith Grey isn’t real, so it will make things difficult, but surely if we all band together, we can work out a way to stage an intervention? A kidnapping? Something, anything, to save this poor girl from her tormentor.